From Smart Technologies to Smart Consumer Law: Comparative Perspectives from Germany and the United Kingdom

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Collaboration with University of Bonn, Germany, University of Osnabrück, Germany and University of Warwick.

This project aims to empowers consumers of smart devices by mapping the main consumer issues in the Internet of Things (IoT), critically assessing the fitness of consumer laws in Germany and the United kingdom, and recommending changes to empower the IoT consumer. With smart devices outnumbering human beings and a $11T value at stake (McKinsey 2019), the IoT is past the hype: it is a ubiquitous, albeit understudied, socio-technological reality. Lawmakers and scholars show increasing awareness of the importance to regulate the IoT so as to make it societally beneficial. However, the focus has hitherto been confined to issues of privacy, cybersecurity, and more recently competition (e.g. European Commission’s Sector Inquiry into Consumer Internet of Things). Consumer laws have been mostly overlooked. However, we posit the these laws, if properly updated, could significantly rebalance the relationships between IoT consumers and businesses and consumers. This would benefit the former because it would improve autonomy and consumer choice. It would also benefit the latter because a trustworthy IoT is more attractive to consumers.

Total award value £284,210.40

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